1. When people quote Romans 9, they tend to approach the chapter as if Paul is speaking about “individual salvation to heaven”, which is absolutely not the case he is making to his Roman listeners. Instead, Paul is convincing the Roman Jews (and their Gentile God-fearers) that the Gentiles have a place in a future chosen people which would reign over the rest of the world in a restored Kingdom of God. Individual salvation is not the issue. The political status before God of a people group is the issue.

      Here is NT Wright, who says similar things, on the historical context of Romans 9:

      “As an example of this abstract model, and as the necessary historical and theological background to Paul and Romans, we may take a broad description of Second Temple Judaism. I have elsewhere argued in detail both for the propriety of this exercise
      (alongside more atomistic treatments) and for the detail of the following rough sketch.

      The symbolic world of Judaism focused on temple, Torah, land, and racial identity. The assumed praxis brought these symbols to life in festivals and fasts, cult and sacrifice, domestic taboos and customs. The narrative framework which sustained symbol
      and praxis, and which can be seen in virtually all the writings we possess from the Second Temple period, had to do with the history of Israel; more specifically, with its state of continuing “exile” (though it had returned from Babylon, it remained under
      Gentile lordship, and the great promises of Isaiah and others remained unfulfilled) and the way(s) in which its god would intervene to deliver it as had happened in one of its foundation stories, that of the exodus.

      Its fundamental answers to the worldview questions might have been: We are Israel, the true people of the creator god; we are in
      our land (and/or dispersed away from our land); our god has not yet fully restored us as one day he will; we therefore look for restoration, which will include the justice of our god being exercised over the pagan nations…

      Paul’s Christian theological reflection begins, I suggest, from within exactly this matrix of thought, with the realization that what the creator/covenant god was supposed to do for Israel at the end of history, this god had done for Jesus in the middle of history. Jesus as an individual, instead of Israel as a whole, had been vindicated, raised from the dead, after suffering at the hands of the pagans; and this had happened in the middle of ongoing “exilic” history, not at its end. This by itself would have been enough, I think, to propel a Jewish thinker to the conclusion that Jesus had somehow borne Israel’s destiny by himself, was somehow its representative. When we add to this the early Christian belief in Jesus’ messiahship, and Paul’s own exposition of this theme, there is every reason to suppose that Paul made exactly this connection, and indeed made it central to his whole theology. The creator/covenant god has brought his covenant purpose for Israel to fruition in Israel’s representative, the Messiah, Jesus.”

      Click to access Wright_Romans_Theology_Paul.pdf

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